January 2002

‘Uncle’ had sex with me in his car when I was 10

A woman who was brutally raped by the man she looked on as a kindly uncle said yesterday: “He took my life away from me.” 

Marie, 22, was viciously attacked by evil abuser, Patrick McNally of Assumption Road, Athlone, from the age of six – he even raped her on her 10th birthday. 

She waived her right to anonymity yesterday to expose the monster who made her life hell. 

The brave young woman said: “I just wanted to see justice done and I feel it was the right thing to waive my right not to be named. 

“He basically took nine years of my life and yes, I want him to pay for it. 

“But it’s over and done with now as far as I’m concerned. I want to really start having a proper life. 

“Until now I don’t think I really ever had one.” 

The 68-year-old pervert, who lived just four doors away from Marie repeatedly abused her until she was 15 years old. 

McNally was sentenced to seven years in prison at the Dublin Central Criminal Court yesterday. 

The pensioner had earlier pleaded guilty to three sample counts each of rape, indecent assault and sexual assault on dates between May 1989 to December 1994. 

He also admitted to Gardai that more than 300 sex offences occurred with his victim when she was aged between 10 and 15 years old.

The offences happened in McNally’s car at Coosan Church, in his house and in a shed at the bottom of his garden. 

The paedophile began abusing Marie by touching her and making her touch him. 

Maire told the Irish Mirror: “I’m just so glad this is over, I feel like I can now begin to have a life.” 

McNally was a close friend of the family in Athlone, Co Westmeath. 

The former soldier owned horses and gave local children horse riding lessons. 

Marie told the Irish Mirror: “I started going out on the horses with him when I was about six. 

“Loads of the local kids learned to horse ride with him. He had been abusing me from the age of six – but it’s all a blur. 

“I remember the very first time he had sex with me. It was on my 10th birthday and it was in the back of his car. 

“He had sex with me three or four times a week – I hated it but I didn’t know it was wrong. I was so young I didn’t know what it was he was doing to me. 

“My younger sisters used to go out horse riding with him as well but he never did anything to them. 

“I used to beg my mum not to let them go but I was too afraid to tell her why. 

“Finally when I was 15 I read in the papers about how a father had been having sex with his daughter and got sent to prison for it. 

“I talked to my friends about it and they explained why it was so wrong. I knew then what had been happening to me was the same kind of thing. 

“I stopped going out horse riding with him and I tried to avoid him. 

“But it wasn’t easy. I would still see him around the place and I was so afraid of him.” 

For four years Marie told no-one of her ordeal. She even moved to England for two-and-a-half years to get away from him. 

She said: “I just wanted to get out of Athlone. It was so hard being there and having that kind of secret. 

“I spent four years trying to deal with it. I really missed my home and family so I would go back to see them quite regularly. 

“But I could always go back to England when things were getting too much to cope with in Athlone.” 

But the burden of her secret was too heavy. She said: “When I was 19 years old I just couldn’t do it on my own any more – I needed to talk to someone so I told my mum.” 

Marie’s mum Kathleen, 45, was shocked when she was told. 

She said: “My father and that man served in the army together. He was at my wedding, I was friendly with his daughters. 

“I couldn’t believe it when Marie told me what he’d been doing to her. I had trusted him. He was so well known around the town and he was well liked. He gave lessons to the local kids for about 30 years. 

“There was never any reason to think he was doing anything bad. 

“It was so difficult for Marie to tell me what had been happening to her but I’m so glad she did. 

“We went to the Gardai and Marie made a statement and it went on from there. It’s taken about three years to get here today. But now she can get on with the rest of her life.” 

Marie only made her final decision to go public the night before her abuser was sentenced. 

She is now back in Athlone and works in telesales and is trying to come to terms with what happened to her. 

She said: “I have a place of my own and things are going OK. To be honest I’m feeling very numb today. It’s hard to take everything in. 

“I just don’t want to think about that man anymore. I want him out of my head.” 

Marie was surrounded by her family yesterday in the Four Courts, Dublin as the sentence was handed down. 

Mum Kathleen, dad Cecil, 48, and two of her sisters, Tracie, 19, and 18-year-old Stephanie were there to lend their support. 

Marie said: “My family have been just brilliant throughout all of this. They’ve been there every step of the way. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here today. 

“I go to counselling every week and it’s really helping me to get through this. It’s one day at a time but I’m getting there.”